Blue Ice Arizona CypressCupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Blue Ice’
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Cupressus arizonica var. glabra ‘Blue Ice’
Outdoor Growing zone
The Blue Ice Arizona Cypress is a beautiful specimen evergreen with billowing lacy foliage on slightly pendulous branches. It has a graceful form with radiating branches, and it grows rapidly, reaching 15 feet or more within 10 years. The leaves are a brilliant silver-blue without a trace of green, and this striking tree is very easy to grow, either trimmed or untrimmed. It makes a perfect lawn specimen, a screen or a trimmed hedge. It can also be grown as clipped specimens, and even in large tubs.
Grow the Blue Ice Arizona Cypress in full sun, and this tree thrives in hot, dry locations where almost all other trees will fail. Water regularly during the first years, and after that it is incredible drought tolerant. Free of pests, diseases and untouched by deer, this is a tree to admire, but that asks nothing of you. You can trim between spring and fall for hedges and clipped specimens, as needed.
In the northern states the ‘go-to’ lawn tree is the blue spruce. These striking trees bring a wonderful icy blue color to the garden, and really stand out. If you live in warmer zones you can do even better, because you can grow the Blue Ice Arizona Cypress. A spectacular shade of silver-blue, this tree has softer, more elegant foliage, and a graceful way of growing with layers of horizontal and descending branches around a central trunk. It looks so soft and even delicate, yet this is a tree that revels in the brightest sun and, once established, thrives under the driest conditions. It isn’t some slow-growing dwarf tree either – no, it adds a respectable foot a year, and even more when young. So you won’t be waiting long to see a wonderful specimen on your lawn or a graceful screen. It can also be clipped into conical shapes and grown into tough hedges, which are beautiful, but to appreciate the full glory of this tree, let it grow untrimmed with plenty of room – you will love it.
The Blue Ice Arizona Cypress is a fast-growing small evergreen tree that will add as much as two feet a year when young, and 12 inches or more even as it approaches maturity. It will grow to about 25 feet tall in 15 years or so, and after that continue to grow throughout its life, adding several inches each year. It has a single straight central trunk, with radiating branches that are horizontal to slightly pendulous, creating a graceful form reminiscent of the true cedar trees. The foliage is soft and fine, with many thin sub-branches, creating a lacy look, and when crushed it has a delicious smell of lemons and mint. The color is outstanding – a spectacular silver blue free of any green, and it gives this tree a real knock-out look. This tree will grow at least 8 feet wide, or more in time, so allow plenty of room for it to develop, and don’t plant too close to walls or fences, or beneath power lines. Its soft branches give it a natural light and airy look, different from the stiff formality of blue spruce. Older trees often produce clusters of small, round, woody cones covered in a blue powdery coating.
You can grow this tree anywhere in your garden, but it is most effective as a specimen on a lawn, alone or in clusters of 3, 5 or 7. It also makes an excellent screen or hedge, and it can be clipped into a dense surface. It can be grown as a clipped specimen too, around your home or in your shrub beds.
The Blue Ice Arizona Cypress grows well in zones 7, 8 and 9, as well as in sheltered spots in zone 6. Although heat tolerant, there is not enough winter cold for it to grow well in zone 10. For colder zones consider the Blue Juniper, Juniperus virginiana, with similar blue foliage, which is hardy to zone 3, and the Italian Cypress in zone 10.
Your Blue Ice Arizona Cypress will grow best in full sun and it loves being out in open, sunny spots. It grows perfectly in any well-drained soil, and that includes poor sandy and rocky soils as well as tough clays. Once established it is remarkably drought tolerant, although the fastest growth will happen with a regular supply of water.
Pests and diseases are not usually problems, especially when grown with plenty of sun and on well-drained soil. This tree is completely resistant to deer, who are repelled by the same smell we find attractive. It can be trimmed as you wish anytime from spring to fall, and it is better to clip lightly and regularly. Never cut back into bare branches, as these will not leaf out again.
You can find the Arizona cypress, Cupressus arizonica, growing in areas of Arizona and New Mexico, and also across mountains in northern Mexico. As has so often happened with attractive plants, trees have been grown from seed around the world, even as far away as New Zealand. It was there that a nursery called Duncan & Davies, in New Plymouth, on the north island of New Zealand, grew some seeds of a selected form of the Arizona cypress noted for blue foliage and called ‘var. glabra’. This was the country’s oldest nursery, established in the 1890s, and over the years it produced many special forms of different trees. Those Arizona cypress seeds produced plants by 1960 and among them was an outstanding individual with stunning blue foliage. They named that unique plant ‘Blue Ice’, and it was introduced back into North America in 1984.
That original tree made a long journey, and since then it has been carefully preserved through stem cuttings to be just as good as it was 60 years ago. Since then it has gained a reputation as one of the best and bluest of all conifers. Order now, because trees of this quality just don’t stay on our farm for long at all.